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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 3, 2011 9:30am-11:00am EST

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campus. universities all across america are doing campus digs these days 'cause it's hard for students to take the whole summer off to go far away to dig something. but during the school year, campus digs, looking for the traces of the early university, that's what we love to do. i have students outdoors right now digging. and it's exciting for them. 100 feet from their classroom they're digging up a storm right now. >> well, thank you so much for your time. >> it's good to be here. >> the c-span campaign 2012 bus visits communities across the country. to follow the buses travels, visit >> and now on booktv, numi prins discusses the current economic situation, about black tuesday about the 1929 economic crash.
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this is about an hour 20 minutes. >> good evening. i want to welcome everybody to the strand. i hope you enjoy our new event space, which is located in our rare book floor. as a way of introduction i'm nancy white and i'm the owner of the strand. the strand was founded by my grandfather in 1927. it's been around for three generations of my family. [applause] >> thank you. so contrary to the so-called experts who say the kindles and the ipads and the next cool devices are going to wipe out bookstores, we believe that people do not want to just be at home tethered to their gadgets even though i see matt brought his device to the bookstore but we're planning to serve the book community for a long, long time.
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tonight, i am thrilled to welcome back nomi prims on her book black tuesday. this is the second time that she has been at the strand and she says that she only signs at independent bookstores. i love her for that. [applause] >> so with the mounting frustration with wall street and the recession, this novel and topic is extremely timely. so this -- and a special thank you to divos the nonpartisan multi-issue think tank for cosponsoring this event and they're located here in new york city. [applause] >> so we have -- we have a lively group of panelists here tonight. none of which are afraid of controversy. including matt and rich benjamin
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who will talk about the current financial climate. black tuesday is a character-driven book that vividly portrays new york on the cusp of a great stock market crash of 1929. it captures the romance and desperation of the most fascinating and difficult times. nomi left a lucrative career at goldman sachs and bear stearns to pen three whistle blower box books, it takes a pillage, and fraud and deception from wall street to washington. her novel, the trail is thriller set in the corruption world and she's a frequent commentator for all kinds of media, pbs, and
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others. matt is a contributor for rolling stone. he writes about politics and finance. in one article he famously described goldman sachs as the great vampire squad rapt about the face of humanity relentlessly jamming its blood funnel on anything that smells like money. [applause] >> he's authored five books, many of which we have here. including the "new york times" bestseller, great derangement and gift topia and he's recently became a contributor for current tv's countdown with keith olbermann. rich benjamin down at the end is the author -- yea. [applause] >> is the everyone searching an improbable journey of the height of white america which was the winner of 2009 editors choice
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award from book list and the american library association. rich regularly appears all over the media including on npr, m nbc, c-span, "new york times," "usa today" and he's a contributing producer of short documentaries for in partnership with cnn and he's a senior fellow at dimos. so for a little bit of tonight's fingerprint we're going to have a conversation. then we're going to open up the mic to your conversations. it's a really big crowd here so if you don't mind just standing up and i'll hand you -- and just waiting a second for me to hand you the mic so that everybody can hear you. and then the authors are going to stick around and sign copies of their books. also a special thanks to c-span for filming tonight. and for the work they do to inspire and educate us. [applause] >> so please join me in
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welcoming some of america's great contemporary whistle blowers and advocates of financial reform, nomi prims and her analysis to the stage. [applause] >> hi, my name is rich benjamin i'm a senior fellow at dimos first of all i would like to welcome you guys who make this event possible. and i want to thank strand, such a beloved, beloved institution for we book lovers here in new york and i want to thank dimos which as nancy mentioned is a multi-issue think tank which works for three overarching goals. the first of which is a more equitable prosperous economy. the second of which is the democracy where more of us can participate. and the third of which is a public sector that works for the common good. now, i want to offer a different angle in introducing our other panelists. i got this email in july from nomi and it said, hey, rich,
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i've written a novel called "black tuesday." right here. and i'm thinking nomi wrote a book about african-american tuesday. [laughter] >> she had to clarify, black tuesday, of course, referring to dark tuesday in the stock market crash of 1929. and immediately i could see the timeliness in of this topic. although nomi could write a book about african-american through nomi is dogged, incisive voice for progressive values and i'm so excited to introduce you. what you may not know and which is alluded to, nomi was part of the 1% before she joined the 99%. nomi was a wall streeter and not only was she a wall streeter she was a managing director at goldman sachs which is such an achievement in itself in terms
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of her brilliance. but now she's based in l.a. and she's writing full-time. and i want to briefly show you her novels because that really gives a wonderful trajectory of her thinking and her career. the first, other people's money, the corporate muggings of america. secondly, jacked, how conservatives are picking your pocket, whether you voted for them or not. third, whistle-blowing book it takes a pillage behind the bailouts, bonuses and back room deals from wall street to washington. by the way, nomi is the queen of titles in case you hadn't noticed. so you can learn more about nomi at and i introduce her with a great deal of pride and a great deal of affection and we miss her here on the right coast. [laughter] >> so nomi prims.
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>> thank you. [applause] >> now matt, you might figure, you know, matt is a bit of an underachiever and a boring writer. [laughter] >> seriously, matt is a regular contributor for rolling stone and he has made such a name. to really exposing the underbelly and the dark side of our financial institutions in just country. you read the beautiful quote that matt had to say about nomi's former employer goldman sachs. [laughter] >> and i'll briefly read from matt's blog today. you can find matt at his rolling stone blog when he's not on countdown. matt wrote today, quote, what nobody is comfortable with is a movement in which virtually the entire spectrum of middle class and poor americans is on the same page railing against insays tuus political and financial corruption on wall street and in
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washington. the reality is that occupy wall street and the millions of middle americans who make up the tea party are natural allies and should be on the same page about most of the key issues. and that's a story our media won't want you to know or you to handle. i have a gripe to pick with matt. as nancy mentioned i published a book called searching for white taupia, 2009, an improbable journey to the heart of white america. in 2010, matt released grift topia, vampire squads and the long gone that is breaking america. so please visit matt and welcome matt and matt, we're delighted to have you. >> story to steal the title. [applause] >> let's just begin and let's jump in. what we'll do is we'll have a conversation and then we'll open it up to questions and nomi,
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let's hear about plaque tuesday. >> well, thank you for that introduction. thank you, nancy, for that lovely introduction. thank the strand. thank demos, thank the lower east side tentment where i spend a lot of time and doing a lot of research. thank you grandfather for two years before the time that this book took place starting in just bookstore because a lot has happened and it's wonderful to gather here tonight for that. obviously, a lot going on in the world with respect to and particularly in new york, on wall street and so forth with respect to what is an uprising amongst people who are just sick of the way things are economically and want it to actually be different, not to have talk about how it might be different but to actually live differently. and we are i'm sure going to talk about that a lot tonight. but what i want to do first is take you back 82 years to a period in time that was both
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very different and very similar to today, and that was part of my inspiration for coming up with the story for this book is that a lot of what i do, what rich does, what matt does -- we talk about numbers. we talk about stats. but it's really in an novel that you can also look at the emotions behind that, the sort of sheer humanity of struggling and of what you bear and what you think you don't want to deal with and what you ultimately come to achieve. and there's a lot of that in this book too. no one is a natural hero. least the hero and she comes in this book with a lot of internal struggle and a lot of different situations. i'm going to read three passages from the book that give you a sense of, you know, what she went through. what things were like on both sides of the divide. the 1%, the 99% of back then and
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it wasn't too different. and go from there. so the first passage, lila lives in this fifth floor walk-up in an apartment that she shares with four other people. her old aunt rosa, her little sister rachel and her two cousins. and it's tiny and cramped as you can imagine back in the '20s, back in that day, back at that time and she's having a conversation with her aunt about this idealism that she's seeing, activism that's kind of happening amongst the workers and the people she knows on that side. and how she really feels about it which is really not sure. lila eyed her aunt's hollow cheek bones the fiery streets and the wiry hair that she braided down her back ho listen to me go on said rosa with her labeled flick of the wrist, of course, things will be fine. how are things with you and
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nelson. fine, answered lila. that's all, just fine. i wish i could be happier he's always going how miserable are and fighting about something ever since his brother was shot. i'm afraid he may join the gangs again. i guess i'm tired i felt. i'm tired of not being a fighter he thinks i should be. rosa not and swayed her body forth into the internal movie of her past. he's a good man with a loyal heart. you should try to see where he's coming from. should, should, should. rosa's words made lila feel inadequate she could not help about think of the stranger in the morning spot. the morning spot is a diner in wall street. she knew nothing about him but he boroughed into her heart. i know, replied lila but that won't make him easier to deal with. you remember what i told you when you first came here a young girl of 14 not knowing a word of english she asked. i do tanta. lila braced herself for a speech she heard many times before.
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it was her duty to listen diligently but her heart impelled her to flee but she loved that aunt with all being but that was a burden she wish she could shake. i told in order to succeed in america is find your purpose and always help those less fortunate than you and that's exactly what nelson drives to do. i know you and he have such courage, such patience. i wish i did. instead, i just want to get out of here. lila stopped herself but lila seemed to understand exactly what she meant. sometimes you don't find your cause, lila, said her aunt with a little smile. your cause finds you. there is a little fight buried in all of us. and that's kind of one of the messages in the book, you know, not all of us start out knowing anything about the direction of our life or fights we might have or how we might react in those particular situations. i mean, certainly when i started on wall street, i was lila's age. i was 19. i had no idea what it was about. and it took me working there
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many, many years to finally figure it out and ultimately to get out and share it. but you don't know. you don't know the answers. and you don't always do the right thing and i think that's a part of all of us. sometimes you come upon the right thing in a really difficult way. one other scene i'm going to read this one and one more. this is a scene where now she's -- lila is working on this -- in just diner on wall street and she goes home every night to this dinghy little apartment on the lower east side. not very far away at all but millions of miles away in terms of the conversations that happen and the money divide and everything else. but she's just discovered a secret about this wall street banker who comes to frequent her diner. lila arrived home to a glorious may evening. vibrant swaths of magenta tangerine and rose stripe the blue dust sky like the swirls around the candy canes on cohen's sweet shop.
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the air carried a gentle breeze on the lower east side. lila was gleefully distraught with the roderick and neighbors that she circled her enabled several times before reaching her building. rachel was playing ball with a few of her friends. the brow brow was damp with the sweat of competition. they had the tallest stoop in the neighborhood it was a magnet for kids. children were laughing and scampering after every stray ball that bounced on the sidewalk. the twins were unofficial neighborhood champs. jonathan would wind his arm like a yankee pitcher and he can go 20 points and finish a game with 100 points. joshua had stopped playing a few years ago. hey cuz jonathan called to lila midpitch his sleeve shirt rolled up to elbows. your sister is out gaining on me she's out to take my title. it's war. i bet on rachel. is that all my talent means to you asked jonathan, rachel is no slouch. would you mind making room to pass through the big game.
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do we have to stop now. of course you don't arriving breathless at their stoop she hung on to her ample breath heaving. we're going to do a little catch up to keep beating jonathan, okay? okay said rachel. not needing the extra encouragement. so good to see you but i'm late for dinner. rosa will be waiting for me to help with the finishing touches. rosa definitely does not need your help in the cooking department. now, tell me what's new. please my life is one big bore now. i need to come up with better fish stories. it's not tragic. house your crush. lila couldn't suppress a wide grin, see there's news tell me but let's go over to feinberg's hardware away from big ears over there. the two walked a few buildings down a block and they went cars charl's shoe store. they passed another set of kids playing hopscotch and a third playing stick ball everyone was out tonight. after they'd sit down lila
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blurted out the latest development. are you kidding me? her emerald eyes nearly bulged out of a sockets. he's a morgan flesh and blood of the richest man in the world and he talks to you? and that was part of what was going on at the time. there was a cynicism amongst a very small group of people about what went down on wall street because it was very secretive. there are bankers down there. there was money made down there. there was a stock market everybody was talking about. but it was still pretty secretive and it still is today but it was even more so then. and yet there was this adoration of it. it must be so amazing. you know, those guys making this money. what are they doing? what crazy things are going on down there. and until the market really crashed, and things got really bad there wasn't this notion of a connection between those things that went down there and how it was impacting a stoop ball game on the steps on orchard street and just as a
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background to one of the women i talked to about their experiences in the great depression was kind of a little bit rachel who was the little sister of lila and the main character, she used to tell me they didn't have a money. they would have a ball and it was everybody's game and it was stoop ball and you would basically throw the ball and catch it and there would be these tournaments going on the street. you would find a stick and play stick ball, whereas uptown on park avenue and so forth you had all of the latest toys, the latest fashions, the latest everything and it was a tremendous tremendous difference as again it is today. even more pronounced back then. but, obviously, there's a cost that comes with that difference on our economy, on people, on people back then. and the bankers that ultimately perpetuate some of what happened don't always know what they're doing and some do and herein lies the problem. her crush is a morgan partner. in real life there were 40
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partners at morgan bank. he was the 41st in my book. but has a lot of the elements of the others. so the last scene i'm going to read will probably take you into today a little bit. but it was -- the afternoon for real of 1929 october tuesday, 1929, the 29th. and roderick, the morgan partner had to go into the secret meeting at the new york stock exchange. right now if you imagine the triangle down on wall street there's a stock exchange. there's the old morgan bank which was the first big morgan bank and then there's federal hall. it's kind of a triangle. obviously it was the same then. and for real they -- in the middle of the day when the market was going crazy and crashing, there was a notice given to the mortgage bank that there was going to be a secret meeting held at the new york stock exchange to talk about what to do. bankers had several days before that on black friday pooled lots
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of money together and thoughts they could save a little bit of the market and the media said that was all great and then they all plummeted and now they're several days later they know -- they know everything they've basically created and lied about is going to come crumbling down and there's a secret meeting in the new york stock exchange to decide what to do. and it was told to people that were coming over from morgan, not to let anybody basically see them come over because that would incite a riot. imagine all these people down in the exchange -- everybody is angry and the actual -- this was only reported much later. it wasn't reported at the time. the meeting that was held was actually held in secret. they went up the back stairs of the exchange to avoid being caught. the exchange was the last place roderick wanted it to be. it was just like his uncle to stay away from the fray, always in the shadows. he grabbed his overcoat and hat and followed them out. from the closer of the lower lobby roderick saw the morgan guards. lamont said not that way. out the back. the two men exited the bank
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through the same steel doors that normally opened for drug loads of gold bars. once outside they had no choice but to barge through the crowds to reach the back door of the exchange across the narrow street. fortunately there were less people on this side of the street than raging directly in front of it but the task was still far from simple. just when they reached the back of the change two guards told them to wait outside so that people wouldn't spot two morgan partners entering. they might just kill you said an exchange guard. he skwlauftd his hat to cover his eyes and when a man wearing a gray overcoat and matching hat marched up to him and punched him in the stomach. roderick doubled over. may you rot in hell said the man before he spit in roderick's face and ran off. on that happy note -- [laughter] >> there was, obviously, a lot of visceral anger back then. we see that anger today. but when i started writing this
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book, it was a story -- the notion of this young girl who really didn't know anything about any of this. not about bankers. not about wall street, not about fighting. not about labor activists she wanted to agree up in america and have the dream that everyone talked about when they emigrated here and that was all. and she comes upon what some discoveries that she can't ignore even though she tries really hard to and that's a lot of the conflict in the book is that, you know, sometimes you ignore, ignore until you can't. and what do we do at that moment of our humanity or our situation or other personal lives, you know, the aggreen light situation for the country or whatever to stand up. and what's our internal struggle in doing that? so she does go through a lot of that and i think today, there's a lot of that now. i mean, there's a lot of anger. there's matt's quote. there's all of this stuff that we know has been imposed upon
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the economy, on the conditions of this country by virtue of criminal activity. by virtue of fraud, by virtue of inflating the value of things that shouldn't be inflated and what we're seeing right now is no different. the details might be different but the mechanisms, the people are all the same really. they're just, you know, like nancy is here instead of her grandfather, you know, it's like jamie diamond is here instead of jack morgan. but in a worse way. and i think that's also the impetus for learning from our past and hoping that, you know, maybe we can bring the good parts of what happened in that past forward because not all of the bankers at this time got what they should have gotten. none of them were actually arrested. none of them were actually tried for securities fraud or anything like that at the time. but -- which is very familiar which i know matt will talk about, but we did have a situation where there was an understanding that the country had to be protected.
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and that in the midst of the great depression that followed the stock market crash in 1929, the foundation of the country -- that the core of the financial system had to be protected vis-a-vis the population. and that was part of the reason why they split up the banks ultimately in 1933 was the idea that you can't be doing fraudulent things and then crash the whole economy however it is that happens. and either, a, get away with it or b continue going on with the health. the government's help. they had the glass-steagall act which divided banks and basically slapped back not their all speculative activities but at least gave the population protections that we don't have now. which is a sad lack of historical understanding in today's world. but all of that aside, going through it at the time -- if you can imagine going back and seeing kind of a simpler world as a person just coming here and
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figuring it out with their heart, with their head, struggling between family, struggling between the wealthy and the poor and everything else, you know, you get a sense for how we are really not that different from how we were 82 years ago. so -- [applause] >> i just want to say one thing about matt in addition -- before he starts responding. no, when he wrote the piece about the vampire squid which was my old firm, i had so many calls about him. we didn't actually know each other at the time. it was sort of like, you know, who is this -- i mean, i knew of him but i didn't know him and we didn't have a personal conversation and i think we had so many calls about that piece and about this guy that i reached out and i'm just glad to
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say, you know, we have become friends. i do admire this man's work and i'm sure you guys all do too. >> that was great. i have a lot to say about nomi but just a couple really quick things before i start. first of all, rich, i'm really sorry for stealing your title. [laughter] >> i didn't -- i saw it. that sounds catchy, i'll take it. [laughter] >> second thing, before we go on, i just want to say how cool it is for me personally to be able to appear at the strand. i've been buying books from those bins outside since i was like this tall and like literally half the books in my bookshelves comes from this store in one form or the one that used to be downtown. my wife and i used to go every weekend and have stacks this big and it's a big honor for me. i'm happy to be here and i'm all glad you came out tonight. this is -- this is great for me to be able to come out and talk about nomi and nomi's book to
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explain where i'm coming from with regard to the nomi and what i think she meant to this period to a lot of journalists like me i just want to tell my story how i came to know her. i think my story was kind of typical for a lot of political journalists up until 2008. most people who covered politics in, you know, national american politics really didn't know anything about economics at all. our whole modus operandi for covering the economy, excuse me, was to look at the stock market and inflation and maybe unemployment figures. and that was it. if the stock market was up, we would say the economy was good. and if inflation was low, the economy was good and that was really about it. most people didn't understand anything else. i can tell you that with 100% certainty that the people on the campaign trail who cover politics offshore living know absolutely nothing about
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economics. and one of the precipitating incidents for me -- is there something we can do that about that feedback? okay. does everyone remember the whole drill baby drill speech that mccain did in the summer of 2008. well, i was -- i was covering mccain. i was on the mccain campaign plane. and i remember we were in kenner, louisiana. he was sort of unveiling a new version of that speech. and, you know, after -- and, of course, when what mccain was talking about is the surge in gas prices that summer. you remember gas prices went through the roof and he was basically saying oh, if we just drilled in the gulf of mexico then those -- somehow that would magically make gas prices go down. ..
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so then the crash happened a couple months later and somebody this whole army of ignoramuses who don't know anything about the economy given assignments like go figure out why this happened. and tell everybody else about it like you are an expert. i was one of those people given this daunting assignment of explaining all of these elaborate mac nations about the financial crisis of 2008 and i didn't know about the checkbook.
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so i am starting from square one. i started making a bunch of calls to people in the industry. the first time somebody explained how credit default swaps work they were saying two financial institutions are at signing a contract with each other and the next person default on his loan and the bank gets the full value of the loan but if he doesn't default then this person continues paying that party a regular payments every month and i am listening to this, that sounds just like gambling. is that economics? these guys on wall street were saying you don't understand, is it is very sophisticated, not just gambling. it is a mechanism for listening risk. they had all this verbiage they were cloaking this in but it sounded fishy to me. then they got into the collateralized debt obligations and the more people explained it to me i was talking to them and
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say let me get this straight. you take a bunch of sub prime loans that are basically risky and somehow sprinkle a bunch of magic dust on them and they turn into a delay rated loans you can sell to pension funds and trade unions and other victims around the globe and they're like yes. that sounds just like the guys on the street who sell product bags and gucci watches. how is that different from crime? there like you don't understand, it is economics, risk-management tool that creates liquidity. that is the phrase they use. it creates liquidity. your instinct is to say is run with a headline that says craziest shift imaginable like this can't really be happening. but like a lot of reporters, i was hesitant because most of us had never met any people from
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that world. none of us had any access to people like lloyd blankfein or jamie dimon. we didn't get to talk to them. even presidential candidates, most of us got to sit down and talk to these people but we don't have access to captains of finance. at least political reporters don't. and so we didn't really know how it worked so all of us were hesitant to make judgments about it. than the fact that the financial press was treating what happened as a grotesque accident and a thousand year flood, this is economics, these things happen. wasn't crime. it wasn't fraud. just a bunch of people who made bad judgments about the market. smart people on television and a whole army of people on cnbc asking like this isn't crazy and it isn't crime so you hesitate because you don't have that personal experience.
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so what was really needed was for somebody from that world to come forward and explain to us, yes this is as crazy as it seems. moreover let me tell you a little bit about what these people are like so you can understand the motivation and the background. that is what nomi's role has been in this fiasco. she was one of the first person witnesses to history to come forward and confirmed the superficial conclusion that these outsiders were drawing but we couldn't know for sure unless we had somebody who was actually on the inside explaining a lot of this to us. it was shortly after my goldman piece came out, or forget who called first but we ended up meeting in new york in a jewish deli in the diamond district. they closed it.
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a dairy luncheon. anybody know that place? we sat and nomi ran through the history of her experience, particularly at bear stearns and goldman and told me a lot about what her career had been like and what her apprehensions were and why she ended up leaving the. for me it was as a reporter almost invaluable because not just confirming intellectually what all these instruments were and how they worked and why they blew up but also how these -- what the rooms look like, where these deals with them and the attitudes of people doing these deals. on the outside one has to come to the conclusion that these people must have been looking at numbers. they're must have been internal objections. people in the risk-management department coming forward. we can't do this. it will blow up this company. they're must have been people
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who said forget about that. we will worry about it later and wasn't until i met nomi that i realized somebody to tell if this did happen, these people were routinely ignored which is why these disasters happen. there were not a lot of people from this world who came forward to tell us what it was like on the inside so she is really an invaluable resource in that regard and what she was able to do with "black tuesday" there are a lot of things we can't imagine except in the realm of fiction because they couldn't possibly happen in reality. for instance we are never going to have a fraud trial of jamie dimon or lloyd blankfein in this country. these people are not going to be dragged into court and forced to answer for their crime. make no mistake. this is another key point that she bears out in the book.
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there were a lot of people trying to say what happened in the crash was the work of a few bad apples on the side and underlings that guys at the top couldn't possibly have been aware they were selling miss mark instruments knowingly and unloading them on customers. that is complete crap. none of this could have happened without the full and total participation at the top of these companies and she makes that claim. her novel comes to a crescendo at the end and their the trial scene where the jack morton character who is sort of the industry dragged into court for fraud and forced to face to face with the people who bought these guys investment trusts which are very similar to the ceos of our modern times no more primitive. that is exactly what we are not going to see as everyone heard about a foreclosure deal, state
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attorneys general sort of a unified settlement that will give the banks immunity from all kinds of legal liability. deep-fried -- because of that deal we will not have gigantic class-action lawsuits of defrauded investors who will drag these guys into court and prove that they all committed fraud. that they knowingly disguise the craftiness of these loans as they were selling them in triple-a-rated securities around the world. we will never get that in sought a court room. we will never see that evidence dragged out. it has been years. nobody has gone to jail for any of this stuff. it won't happen unless more pressures brought to bear from people downtown. we won't see that except in nomi's book and it is a great place to come face-to-face with what the evidence would be if we were able to see it. it is an invaluable opportunity
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for all of us. i think everybody should read it. [applause] >> let me ask you both a question. after freud novels have become about psychology but let's talk about the psychology of wall street. a lot of people are frustrated with what has gone down in the last seven to eight years. tell us about the villain in your-your character. matt taibbi x someone said to work at the highest level of wall street you have to be a sociopath. what is your understanding of people's motive and psychology over the last five years and what has gone on? in the novel sense and in the
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real-life sense. >> there has to be a clear separation of how you act and who you think you are at those top levels and not because they are ceos but because everything that made you able to take that position. i continue to think about this system in a more psychologically emotional sense. i am a sociopath first and that is how you get to that position. it is a late quality? and when you get there it fleshes out? or when you get the power it is like water on a plant? i don't know. is it something that is a latent human thing?
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one of the things that struck me looking at the history of the morgan bank and j.p. morgan's son is when he was called to trial in 1933, in washington, the trial that looked into what wall street had done until the 29 crash, he was really steely and calm and the way the media portrayed it at the time he is so cool and calm and there is a little circus committee girl on his lap and he was so nice to her and after all of what happened there was this turnaround of the media almost embracing the same people running headlines about the court trials. there was always this weird sort of dichotomy that they are up there and so forth. what i did in the novel and i don't want to give away the
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scene because things happen. there are twists and stuff but the jack morgan character is based on jack morgan. it really is morgan bank. there are a lot of elements of crime. forget labeling it as anything complicated. lying about something for profit, that is very simple to achieve. it is as simple as a signature on a document. as simple as two separate documents that say separate things. it doesn't have to be a complicated credit linked derivative vermilion. doesn't need to be that. the mechanism for pulling one over on anyone who buys this stuff requires that same sense of separatism from the people that are buying it. and to me that is a sociopathic quality. in here and, not given away the plot but there are other elements that flesh out the
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sociopathic quality of the villain which you can read. but i think the elements of one kind of crime versus another kind of crime are pretty much the same. >> i totally agree. the first way to answer that question is to identify what happened. what is a typical crime that went on during this recent period? take a banker who is going to sell $250 million of mortgage-backed securities to the state pension fund in minnesota. let's be clear what this is. some guy who knows he is selling gigantic load of extremely risky sub prime mortgages that are likely to blow up and selling a bunch of crap based on pension-funds. the retirement savings of working-class people, janitors leader of the teachers, police and firemen.
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he will steal from old ladies and old people. that is what he is doing when he is selling this big block of mortgage-backed securities or whatever. in order to do that you're going to make an enormous amount of money and you will never see those people and all you do is sign a few documents that hit a few strokes on your computer and emotionally these guys are completely dissociated from the results of their activities and a lot of them came to genuinely believe in the righteousness of what they were doing. they believed that somehow this was the survival of the fittest that somehow the trading capitalist activity was weeding out weak and is going to create liquidity and ultimately help the economy in the end. the reality is what they were doing is stealing from old people and the week. there is no way to do that unless you completely cut up
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your conscience and morality. it gets back to the famous experiment where people are told to turn the dial and they will hear the screams in the other room and the results show that people tend to do that as long as an authority figure tell them it is okay. that is what went on in this community. there was a mantra that existed generally that this stuff was all right. >> it is the way you made money. with your job. >> you had to. >> we would love to hear from you guys. we will circulate a mike. if you would just ask a question and speak into the mike because you are being recorded. thank you. >> this is a really awesome honor. thank you for doing this. my question is speaking about
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training for which you get into these jobs. what part of the problem is rooted in the fact that academic economics is sort of has this inherent problem in which professors or people write papers but those who funded the papers, they could write documents about currency exchange and, this great invention but they don't have to decrease disclose to currency traders who sponsored the paper. how with that is the case to we turned that back? how can we turn academia to disclose information if they're getting funded by certain financial institutions when they write papers? >> i think your question is part of the bigger issue. the transparency notion of what happens on wall street and whether it is the paper's people write about or the articles or whenever and what actually goes on and there is still a lot of
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cloak and dagger as to what goes on every day and a lot of documentation that comes out is very difficult to process or have the information that you need. therefore if you are in academia and decide i am a problem in academia or academic papers is that those people don't necessarily live through the things they are talking about. so talking about currency swaps or credit derivatives and never structured ones. i don't believe anyone in washington knows what a swap is and you don't have to in day-to-day life. you don't need to know a lot but if you are making decisions and you are enabling traditions that allow whatever you don't understand to devastate the economy than it is your responsibility to get out a spreadsheet and look at some numbers and find a personal or
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do anything that gives you some understanding and at least have a basis for what you are deciding upon which does not exist in any people i have spoken with in washington. >> the only thing i will add to that is it is not just at the university level. there has been a lot written about how the banks are sponsoring academics and behind a lot of research papers. a tremendous movement afoot for all the banks getting heavily involved in sponsoring secondary education, even elementary school education if you go to communities across the country lot of deals where a bank will come to a community that is struggling financially and here is $5 million for your school system but in return we want you to dissolve your teachers union or we want this or that and it is like the imf world bank structural adjustment method where we give you a bunch of money and in return we would your geological cooperation on
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this and they are very keen on doing that and i think it shows how far reaching their vision is about society. they don't have any immediate benefit to doing that and they're spending a lot of money on it and that tells you they have a very broad vision for how they want to impact the world. >> and keep the information out. >> you two our heroes. thank you very much. [applause] this is to both of you. do you think we can stop the new hampshire primary before they turn this country into a mad max nightmare world? >> one thing about occupy wall street is bringing out is there aren't any obvious electoral positions to a lot of this. i think we kind of have gone the route of trying to fix this at
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the ballot box because the democratic party and republican party, if you look historically the democrats actually have probably dirtier hand in terms of deregulating this than the republicans do. if you look at what happened in dodd-frank and associations last year that was a fiasco as well. there are a lot of well-meaning people in washington. 43 votes to start breaking up the bank's and the brown coffin bill. is not quite enough. i don't think -- do you think there is a solution? >> at the presidential level, president obama has to indict perez and energy secretary right there as a rubber-stamp to the idea of subsidizing bailing out or whatever term you use the way wall street acts and the way wall street will continue to act. is a rubber-stamp. let's not touch anything because the sector is not about to say i
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made a mistake and should have gotten bank of america because -- countrywide and merrill lynch which they could do. between my role in the new york fed and ben bernanke's role of the fed they're not going to turn around and admit they made a mistake which is sociopathic. the culpability, the most powerful level where you say banks are big or structurally as they are, you agree a large merger that shouldn't ever happen because they are very unstable for the rest of the economy, those people have no incentive interest ability to consider anything they have done a mistake. >> you had this nest because of confrontation of capital they concentrated more. they took the rest from these banks and jam them together and made more dangerous. >> today there be rubber stamping that. bank of america, my favorite
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negative bank, taking a lot of stuff that was toxic from merrill lynch which was something they purchased in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008 and they are putting it on their deposit side. because banks are not just big but complex legal and all the stuff we don't understand, let's mix it up with positive and you have to back it in case that fails. in case you didn't do it in the first time. today, not formally that we have learned nothing but we continue -- we are going backwards right now i think. >> both parties have an equal hand. >> when people are accused of being conspiracy theorists', this is what they mean.
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>> this stuff that financial service companies are doing now seems to be all this volatility in the market like there is this weird thing goldman does with facebook or a tech bubble emerging and there appear to be investment banks shorting entire countries and unless i misunderstand, a liquid bet on the destruction of italy. i wouldn't want to win that bad but i don't know if you have anything on that. >> that is a classic example, take the example of steve waterman -- take the example of grease. goldman goes into greece and stalin this country a gigantic raft of interest. what interest swaps do? it has a whole bunch of debt. can't afford to pay rates now and this is the mechanism to push the debt into the future so
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the current state of politicians and the future generation of politicians a big bomb will go off in their face of basically a symbiotic deal between wall street and sitting politicians. we will lend you a bunch of money now so future politicians can give us a big bribe later. bowlen does this deal which will destabilize grease and make their long-term outlook extremely negative and what do they do right away? set up a mechanism to short grease because they themselves -- is a repeat of what happened in the mortgage industry where they were selling this stuff and turn around and when they broke their bookie's doing that and couldn't get their best paid up they made us pay it through the bailout. that goes on with the euro bill. they will get somebody else to pay it. >> again in terms of history repeating itself, black
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thursday, six big bankers got into a room and decided to pull up the market. wasn't federal money. one of those was the head of what was chase at the time. known as j. p. morgan chase. they got together and he was in this room and our stock is going to be worse and we will put it in the market and little people will buy stuff and everything will be great and meanwhile he set up five companies run by the names of his relatives and he is shorting the stock. his name is alan wiggins. he is in the room and called the new york times right after bankers saved the day and a real headlines all over the place and he is shorting the stock and a year later when the depression starts to really take hold he is in europe trying to figure out how to basically get money out of the european side of the
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crash. it is exactly the same. it made money where you can. you don't have to know every single mechanical detail how this happened. you just have to know the impact is the ultimate result and there's a connection. i show it through the understanding at a base level what happens if one person makes one bad decision on one bad deal, not just escalates in the financial world and the economy but howard it escalates and people realize that home and their family in terms of mortality so there are so many connections.
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>> thank you. for letting everybody how goldman props of greece and shorts it really accurate portrayal. milton friedman said the federal reserve caused the great depression. if you go along with that line of reasoning that the federal reserve allowed for monetary supply to grease did you look at this current crisis, would you say the federal reserve bears responsibility as well because of how they enabled the banks to go ahead to lend out, that would allow the mortgage industry to bear responsibility for creating regulations. what burden would you put on the federal reserve? would you propose the abolishing of federal reserve and if you would in what place?
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>> this could be a topic -- are will give a very short answers that we could honestly talk about a lot. a really good question. the federal reserve and wall street are symbiotic. printing money, making the currency achieved because the giving out cheap loans is what has pumped a lot of toxic assets markets and a lot of speculation and what allow the banks to survive when they shouldn't be solvent. banks that are using that money to speculate and leverage and do these other things. almost like the nature in which the fed enabled wall street to do what wall street does in its current form is the danger. it is totally a symbiotic danger. back in the great depression, i take issue with ben bernanke's great depressions dollars thing. i know he has written a lot of papers and spent a lot of time in that time but again it is all
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back to a personal situation. one of the bankers in that room was also -- often had a seat at the new york fed at the time. the head of citigroup, charles mitchell was sitting at the new york fed. this didn't come up in ben bernanke's paper. he was actually trying to get the fed to keep rates low into the crash of 1929 to keep the speculation going because his bank was going to be screwed if rates went up when he couldn't handle that. he had a lot of stock in his bank and didn't want that to happen so he basically increased the bubble that became the crash personally. other people say he had a personal interest and jamie dimon is the head of j. p. morgan chase sitting at the same
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seat, the same bus at the new york fed able to have a conversation with timothy geithner error to talk about we need rates low and if we don't the economy will get worse or whenever conversation is happening. >> $30 million in guarantees to bear stearns. >> all the -- let's never talk about the fact are only 0 and bear stearns because of financing it and the treasury department is okay with that. the fact that the fed can regulate banks and tell them how to behave or not behave or too large or not too large. and create many, is a completely bad economic policy. it is morally hazardous and all those things. having the fed be in control of regulating the banking system has been allowed to save it when it screws up is not good for the rest of the economy.
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>> one quick thing about this or that. one of the criticisms people nomi and i meet when we talk about this is huge and criticize people at goldman and j. p. morgan. these guys are really smart. they earn their money because they're the smartest guys in the world and deserve all that money they earn because they're so smart. if you are borrowing billions of dollars from the fed at zero% and going out and lending it at 5% to the rest of us or 25% -- >> 29%. >> and that is how you're making your money, does it take a genius to do that? a 3-year-old could make a billion dollars with that kind of set up. it is criminal. the fed is a gigantic atm machine all these banks get to use and they get free money and lending it to us at market rates and that is their business.
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washington called his recapitalizing the banks after the crash and that is all it is. free money. charge of the market rate. >> there is the reason there's not a lot of money that comes out that it is hard to negotiate a mortgage or renegotiate a student loan or get a small business loan. because they wouldn't want to do that if they can get money for free and using it in any capacity. there is no attachment. no obligation. no economic obligation to spread it around and there wasn't back then. the issue was there were more farmers than other business men and a lot of conversation that doesn't happen about how they were trying to suppress loans to the farmers which also helps create the great depression and it is not just farmers but everybody. it is the same mechanism. we keep it low. we restrain when we have problems and get bailed out when we have problems and whatever happens on the outside if
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there's an accident of nature it is the economy. the cycle. the way things are. >> i have question. i know what it is like in the bookstore. what is it like to work for a think tank? what how ofs structure? what houses structure? >> my typical day is our have a series of long-term projects related on politics and the work on those but also follow what is going on on a daily basis whether it is occupy wall street or the election issues and i will comment and research on those. there is no typical day per se but that is what we do. >> is also very much about what is happening right now and how
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these policies within their economic policies are impacting people right now and rather than saying they are actually coming up with all this information people can use when they talk about the issues. >> my question goes back to something matt taibbi said that we never see these individuals prosecuted and i hear that but eric schneiderman and a group of people trying to defend the bondholders and make sure that doesn't happen. given what is going on with occupy wall street where americans are becoming interested and informed thanks to you and i hope we see a lot more of view on tv and everywhere. what can we be doing? to sees these people prosecuted and have a better future all the way around? >> good question. the obvious answer is to write
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letters and protests and all these things. i think politicians are rapidly becoming aware that if they sweep this foreclosure fein under the rug that they are playing with fire. people are already out in the streets because they lost their homes. if they decide not to take anybody to jail for that stuff and also give them immunity from civil liability they are making a huge mistake. they're sensitive to public pressure. we have a good one in new york that will not jump on board but if you are from another state i think they are listening. letters show public support. [inaudible] >> there are not at that level in washington. the collective pressure that they can exude as they hear what
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is going on and they are doing their job, prosecuting as a foreclosure fraud levelland taking that all way up to the ceo level because that fraud is something that remains in every single asset that is created all the way up the line from the one mortgage that might have been fraudulently created to the ceo or what ever seeing this on the other side. fraud continues. it doesn't stop because it is passed to the next level. write your congressman, very something to be said for that. the occupy wall street movement is a visible movement that helps with fat at the representative movement of everybody. it is useful and also the attorney general finding more and more is a good actress borrowed as well. >> really quick on that.
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one of the narrative, banks are trying to push about the foreclosure thing is this is all about paperwork. we didn't transfer the deeds properly. that is all this is about. that is not what it is about. this is a massive systematic cover-up, what we are talking about is a gigantic industrywide effort at selling crack. to investors all around and -- schneiderman, they recognize there's a lot of political haven. if you go down that route with investigating securitization, that whole aspect can be making cases still the next century. a lot of smart attorneys general are realizing that is where the money is and a little push and they will go there. >> there have been prosecutions.
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ac eo or member of the board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to a share holder. so if i were a shareholder and my ceo when he was about to stalin as junk said it will hurt that little old lady in the pension fund in minneapolis, i could sue in if he wants to put my fiduciary responsibly first. if the guy is decent and talk to people who are decent, what they will say is they -- make against the law and i won't do it. stop me before i kill again. think back to enron. those suits were not enron raising the price electricity in california to the point that it broke the state and ruined the educational system but only when you kept secret from other shareholders.
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when you try to pass off on the shareholders. the only shareholders that suits have been brought. that is a shameful system. these guys will tell you i am not even around to think about that. we just have to control them. >> i would quibble with that in the sense that what these guys were doing was criminal. it was fraud. it was against the law and by doing -- it was against the law. if you are taking a gigantic batch of some prime mortgages from countrywide which you know is a criminal organization that is giving out fraudulent loans -- >> you have information that you are not moving along so you also know that. >> you know that and knowingly and loading them on people and not disclosing the fact you are committing a crime and it is incurring a bigger liabilities and potential liability than missing out on profits by not selling that. i would argue that they created
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a much bigger problem for their shareholders by doing this than they would have by not doing it. >> a lot of this stuff could be prosecuted. the whole reason the fcc was created was to investigate, basically keep the kinds of weird things where we are selling and calling it a gentle and selling whatever else. that was the fcc's job, to protect the public from public fraud. from the securities created by these institutions that impact the public being fraudulent. i don't get to prosecute this stuff. but it is very -- it is much less complicated than they make it out to be. [inaudible]
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>> it related question -- your answer scared me a little bit because a lot of what your books are about is how these work. >> our solutions don't get adopted. >> like -- >> i think -- a basic solution that protect a the economy and general population to protect banking institutions. >> my question more -- doesn't their need to be a shift in the way we view these things because i think a lot of the problem as matt taibbi mentioned in his book is this is not seen as criminality by everybody. what can we do to change the mindset of our country where we actually see this as out right criminality? i feel like that is the problem. >> that is probably on the medium more than anything. >> i don't think -- they
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committed securities fraud. securities fraud is illegal. they committed illegal acts and should be prosecuted and penalized. >> we don't feel lot of that. with regard to the solutions there's going to be a huge debate down a road about things that need to be done end the right is going to have its traditional solution of the regulation. the other side will say let's have more regulation. before we get there there are a lot of steps to end this unhealthy symbiotic relationship between government and wall street. neither side agrees on. i don't think anybody on the right or the left agrees our tax dollars should pay lloyd blankfein's bonus. nobody agrees to that. nobody believes stevie cone or george soros or john paulson should pay half the tax rate of a fireman or a teacher. that is something everybody can agree on. there are a lot of things. break up the banks.
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a lot of things that are obvious solutions and more complicated policy discussions down the road. >> one reason i wrote a novel instead of nonfiction was because sometimes you have to take a break from yelling about the solutions. all the years i have been doing this it was sort of like let me go into another time. another period and look at this different way. the solutions aren't that difficult either. it is the will to get there. [inaudible] >> that is the will problem. >> my name is george. and have been to occupy wall street and number of times and my contribution -- it made me the press in the first fifteen seconds of the last week to send as. i hung that skeleton holding placards saying throw me some
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crumbs have the 99% certainly feel. it has been well photographed. my question. i am trying to get the groups to focus on what i think are the two most important overarching initiatives. there seems to be one covered in the stock. camp and -- financial reform. [applause] that is a difficult thing to do. a constitutional amendment will have to be carefully written with tricky parameters. and we need both our illustrious politicians to vote on and now since the debt ceiling crisis when we play chicken with each other we don't have any confidence in either one of them so my question to you is a question. do you think campaign finance reform is one of the best ways to fix what is wrong with the government or do we also need to change our voting system from a single vote into something like -- level the playing field so third and fourth party candidates have an equal chance to win this and we will be able
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to actually vote in have having to vote for the democrat republican but actually vote for anybody we want to and everybody that we want to hand pick the guys board generally prefer bader rest centrist when not even on the ballot now? that is sort of a question. >> a real simple answer to that. if we get money out of politics, that leaves real issues and real solutions and reelected in these in politics. so the campaign finance reform. we go in the opposite direction of what makes sense for us to be more palatable for the general population and the supreme court decision regarding campaign finance reform is another example of a recent happening of that. the people that run required -- the money that comes in from
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wall street and president obama this year, second-largest group contributor is a financial industry. if they are keeping your job you are going to do what you need to do to stay in power. >> just really quickly on that. my own personal experience from covering the dodd-frank bill and when i was down in the senate at that time, really interesting statistic. financial service industry had the 2,000 lobbyists in congress and the other side which was like americans for financial reform had 60 volunteer lobbyists and i remember distinctly being in one senator's office. one of our senators and not having room to stand in the waiting room because there were so many industry lobbyists in the waiting room.
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the problem of money, there were a lot of reforms that got passed in the dodd-frank bill despite the money that got thrown out all these members of congress which shows you what they were asking for was so wrong and the other side was so appealing to whatever was left of the conscience of these congressional members that they did do a few things despite the fact that all the money was on one side and none on the other. so if you had given half of the money out you start to see a lot of movement. >> i want to add something. >> question here. [inaudible] >> to your point about the greek swap deal. the goldman part that range that is head of the public debt
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management agency for grease -- grease --greece. do you think dodd-frank they concentrate financial power or does it reconcentration it by making a further concentrated by breathing transaction costs to a point in complexity to the point where only the largest institutions can navigate through it? >> even more than that the dodd-frank bill does nothing to change current complexity or size. it does not put up banks or reduce their ability to create complex assets and call them gold when they are not. i don't think the dodd-frank bill does much of anything that will be meaningful at all. >> one member of congress i talk to had a great way of describing what happened with dodd-frank when you read the old men and the sea, a guy catches a huge fish and is also joked about it and goes back to shore and then
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there's the skeleton left. that is what happened to dodd-frank. all these great ideas that came out in the beginning and by the time the lobbyists got done there was literally nothing left at all. it gotten eaten away in last-minute discussions and that is a classic example of how the public doesn't really see how real work gets done. all those things you saw on c-span and arguments on the floor of the house and it disappeared in the middle of the night in those committee discussions which is really sad. >> we had a point in time where they did pass. it is again very fast for now but when they did pass in 1933 they did create a somewhat more stable banking system/economic environment. so again the solutions exist. problem is getting them to happen. [inaudible] >> before that we had one other
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thing to talk about. thank you to the 10 that museum. we are grateful for going oprah winfrey but one person under their seats has two person membership for that. [applause] >> thank you so much. for such a spirited -- and great questions. spirited discussion. [applause] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. forty-eight hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. >> here's a short author interview from the campaign 2012 bus as it travels the country. >> set the stage for this book.
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what is it based on and what can your readers expect? >> the book is based on my time in the navy in active duty from 1964 to half way through 1977. the reason i wrote the book was i was speaking to my cousin one day about all these things in my life. he looked at me and he said you have done stuff people just get to read about. maybe that is an idea. i went home and talked to my wife and she said done a lot of stuff. just start writing. right enough chapters. any event like a chapter and figure out a time frame and clear it up.
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so i did. as i wrote it i mentioned to some people i was writing about my experience and they said i remember doing things like that. so what turned out once it was published i got feedback over the internet. this reminded me of a lot of stuff i did and got away with and live through. so it had an appeal for the young kid who joined the military. i was 18 and i was 31 or something when high got out of active duty and i still meet people who say that was great and reminded me of what went on when i was in the service. >> you write in detail about the circumstances that led you to serve in a branch of the armed forces. can you explain how you ended up
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serving in the navy in the capacity that you served? >> i was interested in scuba diving but i put it aside when i graduated from high school and got into photography and current administrator running in the darkroom and somebody on vacation. i learned a lot of things but decided my only option in my situation was to join the military if i want to get out of maine and do something interesting. so i was down at the post office and i was going to see the recruiters. the only one that was in the navy recruiter, i spoke to him. a real nice guy and i can remember his name. told me what i had in mind and i am going to quit high school and get out of town. he said don't quit high school.
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stay in and guarantee you will get into school. okay. i stayed an extra two or three months or whatever it was and graduated and went into the navy and the rest is history. i did choose to be a photographer's make which is the closest thing i could think of that i was doing on the outside and later became a diver. >> you talk about what people thought about service in the 1960s. can you explain how you feel and how you talk about it in your book? >> it was actually what i talk about in the book, after -- after i got back from vietnam, in 69 i got back to the east coast. a friend of mine and i used to go to washington and take pictures of these demonstrations. we didn't have an opinion about
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them but i couldn't believe the stuff being said about me. they were portrayed as druggies and net cases and people who couldn't make anything on the side and things of that nature and later on i found out basically a bunch of garbage. would have gotten a better chance of getting a job with less drug addiction to the general population and so on. i didn't think too much about the way we were treated and i never had anybody spit on me. has proven by the fact that i am still in prison. we sort of didn't pay a lot of attention. we hung around with people with our way of thinking and didn't pay any attention for the most part. >> there are a lot of books written about individual experiences during the vietnam.
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what makes your is different or sets it apart? >> based on like i say, information, feedback from the book, this is not just another one of those vietnam books. i give people credit where credit is due. any ideas that came out, love to help other people succeed when possible. there are some interesting stories and a fair bit of humor in there. i try not to get too technical. in cases where i did use technical stuff i put a foot note. it is fairly easy to understand. don't put a lot of acronyms and things like most military books do. about 80 or something like that in this book. the first edition printed by random house was poor quality.
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it was up paperback, three or four boxes and free paper and larger print for guys to read. >> very specific event you have written about in your book that stands out in your mind? >> the first time i was shot at. i can remember that. you don't have to be shot at very many times to spend 30 seconds or however long. it didn't mess me up but one case that did have an effect on me was one of the vietnamese guys we were working with mutilated a dead pc. i was not impressed with that at all. i didn't hate the viet cong because i never got captured by them or anything like that. i was shot and wounded myself. i worked with people who hated
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the vietnamese for some reason. i can't process that information. it was a bad situation. we tried to help them and not very successfully thanks to 94 congress. >> the c-span campaign 2012 bus visits communities across the country. to follow the bus's travel visit www. >> is so convenient to listen to c-span anytime anywhere with the free c-span radio apps. you get streaming audio of c-span radio and all three c-span television networks 24/7. you can listen to our interview programs including q&a, newsmakers legal the communicators and afterwards. c-span, available wherever you are. find out more at


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